ELT Approaches and Methods

ELT Approaches and Methods
ELT Approaches and Methods

ELT approaches and methods are the most common terms used to refer to a range of teaching styles in English language education. These may also be referred to as instructional methods, classroom practices, learning strategies, or pedagogical practices, depending on the context. The term “approaches and methods” is sometimes shortened to AAMs.


The set of approaches and methodologies that have been adopted within ELT vary considerably across contexts: There are still some teachers who argue that more traditional modes such as rote memorization or dictation should be abandoned while others advocate an approach based entirely on meaning-centered instruction where students have frequent opportunities to explore texts at their own pace without any formal teaching projects (e.g. ELT programs in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea).


As a result of this diversity, there is no consensus on what constitutes an approach or methodology in ELT. However, there are several common features that most approaches and methodologies share.


ELT approaches and methods may be categorized by the following features:



Some approaches to language teaching center around one methodology, for example grammar translation (see below), while others are more eclectic. Examples of eclectic schools include Communicative language teaching (CLT) and task-based language teaching (TBLT).

More detailed lists can be found under the different approaches to language teaching below.


There are a number of different ELT approaches that have been described and categorised in the literature. The first such classification was by Lapasset, who described a number of approaches, and classified them further into three types: the “objective approach”, the “mystical approach”, and what he called the “intellectual approach”. In his classification, Lapasset proposed that objectivistic approaches were rooted in language production (e.g. communicative language teaching) or pedagogical methodology (e.g. grammar translation, the direct method); that mystical approaches were rooted in psycholinguistics and humanism; and that intellectual approaches were rooted in psychology, philosophy and linguistics.


This was followed by James W. Tollefson’s “Three Divisions of Language Teaching”. He argued that language teaching first evolved into a grammar-translation method, which was gradually replaced with a structural approach (i.e. word order drills), which eventually gave way to communicative language teaching.

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